The country’s last wild buffalo — America’s newly designated National Mammal — are in grave danger. Yellowstone National Park has begun capture for slaughter operations and plans to kill hundreds of wild Yellowstone buffalo in the coming weeks, all to appease the interests of Montana’s livestock lobby.
Capture operations at Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek bison trap began Saturday, January 7, 2017. BFC field patrols in the Gardiner Basin report that 84 wild buffalo are currently captive in the trap. Yellowstone and other bison “managers” plan to slaughter — or domesticate if a controversial quarantine plan is approved — upwards of 1300 of these sacred beings this winter, all in an effort to appease the intolerance and unfounded fears of the powerful Montana livestock industry.
Please call Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk right now (307-344-2002) and tell him to release these buffalo and end further plans to capture the country's National Mammal!
Watch this BFC video to see what Yellowstone National Park is doing to our national mammal, the sacred buffalo.
In addition to capture, wild buffalo face other fatal dangers if they migrate across Yellowstone’s boundary into Montana. Like other migratory ungulates, buffalo must leave the park in order to survive the harsh winters. Less than a mile from Yellowstone’s trap, just outside the boundary, hunters await to make their kills. As buffalo migrate into lower elevation habitat they are met with gunfire. Buffalo are never able to make it far before being shot or spooked by hunters, which causes them to flee back into Yellowstone and into the clutches of the trap.There is no safe place for wild buffalo in the Gardiner Basin.
Capture operations are going to interfere significantly with state and treaty hunting, which is currently in full swing. Wild buffalo are being hunted along Yellowstone’s border by hunters who hold Montana tags, and by four Native tribes — the Confederated Salish & Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone Bannock, and the Umatilla Confederacy — who hunt buffalo under treaty right. Hunters are extremely upset that Yellowstone has opened its trap doors so early, and most join BFC in being adamantly opposed to any capture of wild, migratory buffalo. While BFC does not agree with the way buffalo hunting is currently taking place, given the limited landscape, small buffalo population, and firing line-style hunts, we do hope that we will strengthen our common ground with hunters and be able to bolster solidarity efforts aimed at ending the trapping of wild buffalo for good. Unfortunately, the limited landscape where buffalo are allowed to roam facilitates highly unethical hunting practices which not only manifest in the gunning down of wild buffalo at Yellowstone’s borders, but forces the buffalo to flee back into Yellowstone and become trapped by park officials. In the midst of such management madness, wild buffalo have nowhere to roam in the Gardiner Basin without being shot by hunters or captured for slaughter by Yellowstone.
Buffalo are bottled up in the Gardiner Basin with no escape due to livestock politics. Hunters compete for the few buffalo on the landscape while also racing to beat Yellowstone’s lethal capture operations at the trap. With such insanity playing out on the land it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Montana's livestock industry and the bison management plan that it has forced on Yellowstone are the true forces responsible for the killing of wild buffalo. Whether through hunt or so called government management actions, the end result is the same: buffalo are reduced to meat, the land is robbed of one of her best caretakers, and the livestock industry gloats with satisfaction.
At a fundamental level, Montana and its cattle culture of control and intolerance are to blame. Our combined efforts must focus on changing and challenging this status quo of the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Any action that does not fight this intolerance and excessive killing, or that fails to advocate for the buffalo's ability to live and move freely on the lands that are their birthright, poses a threat to the buffalo's long term survival and evolutionary potential. Montana has played their cards in such a way that they aren’t feeling much of the heat anymore; instead, all the entities who should be the strongest allies for wild buffalo — Native Peoples, subsistence hunters, Yellowstone National Park, and buffalo advocates — are pointing fingers at each other. It’s the same old game of divide and conquer. Let’s not be fooled. Let’s gather our strengths and focus. Montana is our target and our aim must be true. To start, we must repeal MCA 81-2-120 and remove the Montana Department of Livestock’s authority over wild buffalo. We must also insist that wild buffalo are respected like wild elk in Montana. Please TAKE ACTION right now!